NPSL began and FCT 253 makes its debut in the league. The expansion club, who has already qualified for the U.S. Open Cup, draws it first game against Real San Jose.
The match ended in a 1-1 draw after FCT 253 was unable to capitalize on consistent pressure in the box, including in stoppage time.
FCT 253 hosted RSJ at Memorial Stadium in Seattle, with the iconic Space Needle looming over the pitch. Memorial was the site of FCT 253’s historic 6-1 win last Sunday over San Diego Flash to qualify for the U.S. Open Cup.
After a scoreless first half, Real San Jose was able to break the draw with a hard strike from 15 yards out by forward Daniel Martinez. The FCT 253 bench wanted offside on the play, one of several judgments that received vocal disagreement during the match.
Shortly thereafter, the frustration seemed to boil over for the home team. After defender Sofien El-Merik was downed in a collision, there was pushing and shoving between the teams on the near sideline. El-Merik would have to leave the game after staying down on the pitch for several minutes. Real San Jose’s David Sifuntes received a yellow card.
FCT 253 answered in the 66th minute, collecting their first goal in NPSL play. Forward Abdi Galgalo, an early sub, punched in the short equalizer after the ball deflected off the goalkeeper’s hands.
Galgalo had another promising threat on a breakaway in stoppage time but had his progress stopped by the RSJ defense, another non-call that got a rise out of the FCT 253 bench. On the ensuing corner, FCT 253 defender Colin Dalrympe missed wide right on a header from feet away. The whistle blew shortly thereafter, sealing the draw.
Coach Filippo Milano blamed his team’s inability to capitalize on inexperience. “The NPSL has a steep learning curve, and our team was feeling pressure after the U.S. Open qualifying wins,” he said. “We had 5 players that were not cleared for eligibility, and I had to put in players who were 18 years old. You need that expertise, that experience in the box.”
But overall, he was still pleased with the result. “They fought very hard, and RSJ played well,” he said. “And we’re going to get better the next game, and the game after that.”
“I’m proud of our guys.”, said the president Giuseppe Pezzano. “Some players, who played in the qualification games for the US Open CUP, were missing. The new arrivals could not play, yet. And Essabr wasn’t able to play at his best because of some muscle issues. Despite all this, I could see that our team is a real one and our boys are really cohesive!”.
*We thank for the picture Marcus Annable Photography.